Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Endeavour Ready for Final Flight Home

Image Credit: NASA
Space shuttle Endeavour will return to Earth for the final time on Wednesday, June 1, completing the 16 day mission to upgrade  the International Space Station.

When Endeavour lands on Wednesday it will have spent 299 days in space and traveled more than 122.8 million miles on 25 flights.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Endeavour Set for Return to Earth - Day 14 Video Recap

The six crew members of space shuttle Endeavour have said farewell to the three Expedition 28 crew members aboard the International Space Station and at 4.38 am EDT (9.38 GMT), Space Shuttle Endeavour fired its jets to complete the final separation from the International Space Station, setting it on its course for return to Earth Wednesday, June 1.

The shuttle's re-rendezvous with the space station for the Sensor Test for Orion Relative-navigation Risk Mitigation, known as 'STORRM', was completed as planned with Commander Mark Kelly flying Endeavour to an approach within about 950 feet of the station as the systems visual navigation system was tested.

The hatches between the two spacecraft had been opened at 7:38 a.m. on May 18 and were open for joint crew operations for a total of 10 days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Endeavour STS-134 Daily Mission Recap Video - Flight Day 12

A video recap of flight day 12 of the STS-134 mission of space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station:

(Video credit: NASA)

Friday, 27 May 2011

Endeavour Astronauts Successfully Complete Final Spacewalk

Astronaut Mike Fincke (Image credit:NASA)

Endeavour Astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff have successfully completed  the fourth and final spacewalk of the mission. Taking seven hours and twenty four minutes, the primary objectives for the spacewalk were accomplished, including stowing the 50-foot long boom and adding a power and data grapple fixture to extend the reach of the International Space Station's robotic arm.

This was the last spacewalk ever to be conducted by space shuttle astronauts. At 5:02 a.m., Fincke and Chamitoff surpassed the 1,000th hour astronauts and cosmonauts have spent spacewalking in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

It was the 248th spacewalk U.S. astronauts have conducted and the 118th from space station airlocks and Mike Fincke's ninth – and at  20.00 EST this evening, he will become the U.S. astronaut who has spent the most number of days in space, surpassing Peggy Whitson's record of 377 days in space.

The Endeavour is due to return to Earth on June 1st.

Record 1000 Hours on Final Shuttle Spacewalk

Image credit: NASA
Astronauts and cosmonauts have now spent 1,000 hours spacewalking for assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station. 

Spacewalkers Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff surpassed the 1,000th hour 4 hours and 47 minutes into today's spacewalk, at 5:02 a.m. EDT. It is the final spacewalk of this mission and the last ever by space shuttle astronauts.

Endeavour STS-134 Daily Mission Recap - Flight Day 11

A video recap of flight day 11 of the STS-134 mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station:

(Video courtesy of NASA)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Endeavour STS-134 Daily Mission Recap - Flight Day 9 (Video)

A video recap of flight day 9 of the STS-134 mission of space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station.

Third Endeavour Mission Spacewalk Successfully Completed

Photo credit: NASA

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke have successfully completed the third of four planned spacewalks.  The six-hour, 54-minute spacewalk ended at 8:37 a.m. EDT.  They completed all planned tasks, installing cables to increase redundancy for the power system on the Russian segment of the station, completing the external wireless antenna system work started during the first spacewalk.

This was the 247th spacewalk conducted by NASA Astronauts and the 158th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, totaling 995 hours, 13 min.

If all goes as planned, the 1,000th hour of space station assembly and maintenance will be logged during the final spacewalk on Friday, when Mike Fincke will secure the record for the most days in space, currently held by Peggy Whitson who has spent 377 days in space.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Endeavour Crew Complete Second Spacewalk

Mission Specialists Drew Feustel (top) and Mike Fincke on the second
 spacewalk of the STS-134 mission
Image credit: NASA TV
Spacewalkers Mike Fincke and Drew Feustel successfully completed their mission's second spacewalk at 10:12 am EDT (15.12 GMT). Mike Fincke installed two radiator grapple bar stowage beams to the International Space Station while astronaut Drew Feustel worked on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, called ‘Dextre’.

Lasting eight hours and seven minutes this second of the four spacewalks on the STS-134 mission and the 246th spacewalk by US astronauts. It was Derew Feustel's fifth spacewalk for a total time of 35 hours and 24 minutes and Fincke's seventh spacewalk for a total time of 34 hours.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Launch Date Set For Final Space Shuttle Flight

Image Credit: NASA

NASA's final space shuttle flight is targeted to launch on July 8 at about 11:40 am EDT (16.40 GMT) from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mission STS-135 for the Space Shuttle Atlantis will deliver supplies and essential spares to the International Space Station.

The 12-day mission also will deliver an experiment designed to test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites. Chris Ferguson, a veteran of two previous shuttle missions, will command Atlantis with Doug Hurley as pilot.  Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim have been named as the mission specialists.

STS-135 will be Atlantis' 33rd mission and the 37th shuttle flight dedicated to International Space Station assembly and maintenance. It will be the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Endeavour Mission STS-134 First Spacewalk

STS-134 Crew: NASA astronauts Mark Kelly (bottom center), commander; Gregory H. Johnson, pilot; Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency’s Roberto Vittori, all mission specialists. Image credit: NASA 

Mission Specialists Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff have completed the first of four spacewalks of their mission. The spacewalk began at 3:10 am EDT (8.10am GMT) when Drew and Greg switched their suits to battery power, signifying the start of today's work.

Feustel and Chamitoff had a busy time as they retrieved two long term experiments and installed a new package of experiments on ELC-2, which is already on the International Space Station. They also installed jumpers between segments on the left-side truss, or backbone of the station, for ammonia refills and fitted an external wireless communication antenna on the Destiny laboratory that will provide wireless communication to the Express Logistics Carriers.

A carbon dioxide sensor failure in Chamitoff’s spacesuit meant that flight controllers limited his spacewalk time to 6 hours and 20 minutes - 10 minutes less than the planned time - bit still a long time in a space suit!

NASA scientists are analysing images taken from the International Space Station of Endeavour’s thermal protection system during the backflip maneuver while the shuttle approached the ISS. A decision on whether the inspection is required or not is expected later today.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Latest on the Endeavour Mission: STS-134

AMS in the cargo bay  - Image credit : NASA
The crew of space shuttle Endeavour woke today to “Luna” by Jose Serrano was played for Mission Specialist Greg Chamitoff. (Jose is a personal friend and wrote the song especially for this mission).

First Mission STS-134 spacewalk

The crew will also begin preparation for the mission's first spacewalk.  Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff will have to get used to reduced air pressure to purge nitrogen from their bloodstreams and prevent the risk of the “bends”.

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS)

The main focus if the mission was achieved at 5:46 a.m. EDT, when the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) was installed successfully on the outside of the International Space Station's right side. Mission Specialists Andrew Feustel and Roberto Vittori used the space shuttle’s robotic arm to extract it from Endeavour's payload bay. They handed it off to the space station’s Pilot Greg Johnson and Mission Specialist Greg Chamitoff then used the robotic arm to install AMS on the starboard side of the space station.

The AMS is a two ton ring of powerful magnets and detectors to track cosmic rays in a search for various types of unusual matter. The AMS will be operated remotely from Earth, automatically sending information to scientists for the life of the station.T

The AMS team will monitor the experiment 24 hours a day, gathering data and using a large magnet to create a magnetic field to bend the path of the charged particles traveling through space.

Hundreds of scientists from sixteen countries are working together on the project to determine what composes the universe and how it began, so the AMS could provide information about pulsars, blazers and gamma ray bursts that help us understand the cosmos.

Moon-Luna Llena Music Video

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Space Shuttle Atlantis Starts Final Voyage

(Image credit: NASA)

Shuttle Atlantis is making its final planned move from the Orbiter Processing Facility-1 to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for fitting of its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters.. The move is called the "rollover" and marks the start of  the STS-135 mission to the International Space Station, planned for July.

This will be the final flight for Atlantis and the last ever shuttle mission. Atlantis was the fourth shuttle built and was completed in half the time spent on Columbia through the use of large thermal protection blanket, rather than individual tiles. Atlantis was delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 9, 1985 and has successfully completed 33 missions in space.

Endeavour Docking with Space Station

(Image Credit: NASA)
Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and pilot Johnson will fly Endeavour for docking with the International Space Station today. An hour before docking, the shuttle will make what NASA nicknamed a “backflip” while the crew take as many pictures as they can of Endeavour's heat shield for analysts to examine.

After docking it is planned that the crew, consisting of Kelly and Johnson, shuttle Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and the European Space Agency’s Roberto Vittori will join the ISS crew at 8:36 a.m EST (13.36 GMT) for twelve days of experiments and maintenance work. These will include looking at cellular biology, radiation, plant growth and aging, how diet may affect night vision and how an electronic device can check air quality in spacecraft.

Waiting to meet them are ISS Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev of Russia, Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, and NASA's Cady Coleman and Ron Garan.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Shuttle Endeavour launched successfully on STS-134 mission to ISS

(Image Credit NASA HD TV)
Space Shuttle Endeavour launched successfully on its final flight at 08.56 am EDT Friday, May 16, on a mission to the International Space Station.  

The STS-134 mission

As part of the STS-134 mission Endeavour will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS), a particle physics detector designed to operate from the station and search for various types of unusual matter. Also on board for delivery are spare parts on the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 3 (ELC3), including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank, ammonia tank assembly, circuit breaker boxes, a Canadarm2 computer and a spare arm for the Dextre robot.

The ELC3 also houses a suite of Department of Defense (DoD) experiments that will test systems and materials concepts for long duration spaceflight in low Earth orbit. The STS-134 mission includes four space walks for station maintenance, experiment swap out and transferring Endeavour’s orbiter boom sensor system (OBSS) to the station.  The crew will leave the boom as a permanent fixture to aid future station space walks if needed.

Endeavour’s final landing

Endeavour’s final landing is scheduled for 2:32 am EDT on June 1st at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  At the time of its scheduled landing, Endeavour will have travelled more than 100 million miles during 25 flights and spent more than 294 days in space.

NASA launch video

Shuttle Endeavour is set for launch at 8:56 am EDT (13.56 GMT).

(Image Credit: NASA)
Space shuttle Endeavour’s external fuel tank was filled with more than 500,000 gallons of super cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen began at 11:36 p.m. EDT and the count down restarted at T-6 hours following a two-hour built in hold. 

Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters continues to predict a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for today’s launch. The only concerns are for low cloud ceilings and high crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility. 

Endeavour’s launch is therefore on target for 8:56 am. EDT. Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the countdown is going extremely well and the team is ready to go. 

Watch the final launch of Endeavour on NASA Television and at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Endeavour Launch Delay Update

NASA have announced that technicians and engineers are narrowing in on the likely source of what caused heaters on a fuel line for space shuttle Endeavour’s auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1) to fail on Friday, resulting in the postponement of the Friday launch attempt for the STS-134 mission.

The NASA launch planning teams will meet Monday and are expected to determine a new “no earlier than” next launch attempt for Endeavour at that time.   

Space Shuttle Program Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses said "We can tell you, pretty much, that it's not going to be any earlier than May 8 (as) there's still a whole lot of short-term work that has to be done."

Problem with power control box

Test results indicate the problem is with a power control box, the aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2) in Endeavour’s aft compartment. Teams are working on plans to replace the box or any faulty associated hardware. The launch team currently is backing out of launch countdown operations.  There still are numerous factor to be worked out, but just based on the amount of time needed for repairs a new launch is unlikely before the end of the week, at the soonest. 

Endeavour’s six astronauts are heading back to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for a few days of additional training before they return for the next launch attempt.